At minimum, we acknowledge their value as a child of God. You may find that the simple act of acknowledgement leads to a meaningful conversation. My husband jokes that I have the “spiritual gift of listening.” Frequently, complete strangers will pour out a story or share a deep need with hardly any prompting on my part. I don’t really know if I have the spiritual gift of listening. I do know that people are desperate to be known. So desperate that they will pour out their soul to a total stranger who seems willing to listen.
I was grocery shopping the other day and an older woman struck up a conversation about a melon in my cart. I commented back and started to move on. Then she mentioned a recent tragedy that happened in our city. This time I stopped, looked at her and looked at her cart. She was half way through the store and only had a box of raisins. She confessed she wasn’t sure what else to buy. I realized something. She wasn’t there to shop. She was there to be around people. She needed what we all need every day: to be seen and to be heard.
It seems so basic, but as I move though life–sitting at a stop light in my car, interacting with a cashier, walking around downtown–there are people everywhere who light up when I simply make eye contact and nod or smile.
“I see you. You are not just a part of the landscape, but a unique human being with identity and value. I see you.”
I invite you to try it for a couple of days. Just smile and meet the eyes of people around you. Stop lights are the best way to start. In the car next to you is a person with a story. Look at them. Smile. See if they smile back.
Doing this small thing opened my eyes to the people around me. It got me outside myself. It gave me opportunities to engage with people.
There’s so much need and so much pain in the world. We can’t change or fix it all, but we can move through the world extending the love of God in a meaningful way to his children.
I’ll leave you with this quote and an invitation to see. To listen. I’d love to hear what happens.
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” — Edward Everett Hale